Today’s guest post is written by the talented and inspirational Laura Trotta from Sustainababy. Laura’s family has recently adopted three chickens and her children are reaping the benefits of having them in the garden. Here she shares with us seven reasons why your family should consider having chickens.
Over the years our family has owned many different animals as pets including dogs, cats, goldfish, Mexican walking fish and yabbies to name a few. Without a doubt, chickens have been my favourite.
My love affair with chickens started over six years ago when we purchased two gorgeous silkies who we named Shirley and Esmay. Earlier this year Shirley passed away and her sister was so distraught we immediately gave her to a neighbour who had a large flock of hens.
At the time our baby was hard work and our sleep tanks were running on empty so we decided to take a break from chickens for a while and just get through the bare minimum each day. What I didn’t bank on was just how much I would miss the girls!
What surprised me was it wasn’t the eggs I missed the most. Our silkies weren’t great layers and when they did lay, their small bantum eggs didn’t stretch very far. It was the silence that I first noticed. The relaxing and gentle cluck clucks coming from our backyard were noticeably absent. I felt sad every time I looked at the empty chicken coop. Weeds were overtaking our organic garden beds and food scraps unsuitable for compost that used to go to our chickens, were now going straight to landfill. This simply wouldn’t do. It was time to get us some more girls!
I saw a shout out on Facebook by Edgar’s Mission asking for friendly homes for hundreds of battery hens rescued from a facility in Victoria and immediately completed our adoption forms. Thanks to friends in town who were also accepted as adoptive parents and who made the long return trek to Adelaide to collect the hens, our lives felt complete again.
If you’ve ever wanted to own chickens but thought it wasn’t possible because you live in a large city, think again. Even a small flock of hens can keep your family in good quality egg supply and provide a myriad of other benefits. Here are seven reasons why your family should have chickens:
Chickens are Great for Kids
Chickens make wonderful companions for children. Daily tasks such as collecting eggs, taking out food scraps and replacing fresh water can all be done by young children which in turn, teaches them about contributing to the household and looking after animals. Your child’s immune system, mental health and happiness will also benefit from owning feathered friends.
You Will Live Longer
Studies have shown that those of us with pets live happier, healthier and longer lives. It’s all attributed to the love hormone oxytocin that’s released when you pet or hug your animal. Where most people think of cats and dogs as the best companions, I beg to differ. Not a day passes without Master 3 going into the chicken coop to pet and talk to his chickens. He makes them happy and they make him happy and no one can argue with that!
FREE Pest Control Chickens love to eat protein-packed insects and grubs and have even been known to eat mice! They also will munch through a wide selection of weeds and are the best free labour around for the home organic vegie gardener!
FREE Nutrient-rich Garden Fertiliser
The best gardeners know that quality food is produced from the best quality soil. You simply can’t go past chickens as one of the best natural garden bed preparers around. They are experts at mixing the top layers of soil with compost or other mulches to transform marginal soil into nutrient rich fertile garden beds.
While chook poo provides your plants with more nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus than any other manure, there is a catch. Raw chicken poo is “hot” and can burn or kill your plants. You can avoid this by turning it into compost before you apply to your garden. Simply collect the manure and bedding from your coop, add it to your compost, water it and turn every few weeks. Depending on the composting conditions, after 6-12 months you will have the best quality compost around.
Eliminate Food Waste!
Laying hens have a massive appetite for fresh water and food and will happily devour most food scraps you provide them. Having chickens alone has helped Master 3 eat his healthy dinner (rather than it going to the chickens!)!
You Can Help Save a Species
Sadly not all chickens were created equal. High intensity food production in recent decades has led to our high-producing battery hens becoming the chicken of choice. By owning beautiful and rare heritage breeds you can help to preserve genetic material that may be vital to save the poultry industry one day if a disease swept through and wiped out our standard breeds.
Of course to really help you will need a rooster so you can make baby chickens. Many local councils prohibit residents from owning roosters so breeding rare chicken breeds is best left to the hobby farmer or country dweller.
You Will Never Buy a Dodgy Egg Again
It goes without saying that the only way to get around the misleading labelling of the egg industry is to have your own chickens. The only downside with having your own fresh supply that every other egg will taste inferior from now on!
Our three girls currently supply us with just under two dozen ethical eggs a week which is plenty for our growing family.
If you’re a keen home cook or organic vegie gardener who doesn’t yet own hens, why not invest in a small flock this spring so you can start reaping the many benefits.
About the Author: Laura Trotta is an environmental engineer, eco mum and founder of Sustainababy. She is passionate about helping parents lead a more sustainable lifestyle and lives in regional South Australia with her husband, two young sons and her three hens named “Thomas, Percy and James.”